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China Girl blog 8th May 2019

May, which should be warm and sunny, has begun with a bitter wind blown in from goodness knows where, bringing frost at night like winter in spring-time.

At long last, the tree surgeons came back for a morning to tackle our great oak, which sits on the very edge of the banks of the river; its roots must be under the river bed. They thought it would take but a short time to cut out the dead wood, but took longer than originally perceived. Mother remarked that looking up at the old tree it reminded her that she too, is growing old.

Marcus who lives in the North Wing attic which Ma turned into a studio flat, came to help for two days. Rose, Chris, Marcus and Ma went up to the woods to collect yet more hazel to make plant supports for the herbaceous border. The rest of the day was spent twisting them into supports for the tall plants in the border; however close they are planted, an unexpected summer gale blows the border asunder.

The next day Rose, Marcus and Ma cloud pruned a box hedge, which hadn’t been pruned for some years. The problem with box is that it should not be pruned in the sun as the small cut leaves bleed, burning the hedge and turning it brown in the sun,  killing the leave it touches.

A biannual Echium, bought two years ago in Cornwall and planted for protection in the inner court up against a south-facing wall, has grown to about twenty feet, almost obscuring a window. Last week it started to flower; an amazing sight, loved by bees. Its great trunk leans away about three feet towards the south. As there was no label on the plant, we had no idea how it would turn out. Ma thinks it the most spectacular plant of the moment. We wonder that if the winter had been harsh, would it have  survived?

The early May Bank Holiday brought many visitors to the gardens. The Tearoom ran out of nearly everything and we were left with only two slices of cake.

Ma wishes the weather would warm up, especially as she has planted up several containers of half-hardy perennials, which have to be protected in the cold, frosty evenings.

The light which filters through the garden is a reminder that a garden is a truly lovesome thing.